Saturday, December 25, 2010
Too Many Hymns and Carols and Not Enough Services
It strikes me funny how each year I hear people say "Well, I did not believe you could have Christmas and not sing ____________________________(fill in the blank)" and the hymn or carol you fill in the blank is different for each person. It is testament to the power of hymns and carols to shape how we approach the Holy Day and how the message of those hymns and carols can speak to us the wonderful message of hope that is born on Christmas.
I tried a couple of years to leave out "Silent Night" but this was perhaps the biggest mistake of my Pastoral career. So it was put back in, the final hymn of the evening, with lights low, candles in hand, and organ fading out to silence, until only the voices alone echoed in the Sanctuary... Each and every Christmas Eve these are the final words that are heard as the people leave... The interesting thing is that they stay, transfixed by the darkness and filled with the emotion of the moment... and who wants that feeling to pass... Ahhh, I don't either.
I must admit that I am most partial also to the Scandinavian hymns and carols of Advent and Christmas -- all those years of getting up so early on Christmas morning for Julotta. These are not so popular as the German and English hymns and carols, but they are great, too. I think of "I Am So Glad when Christmas Comes" and I think of my grandparents, family traditions, and the marriage of German and Swedish Christmas customs and traditions -- the way it was when I grew up.
So sing them out and sing them long... the wonderful songs, hymns and carols of Christmas that make it part of all that is wonderful, all that is hope, all that is peace, and all that is joy at the Nativity of our Lord...